Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction
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P 261151Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5560
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RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0111
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 3692
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4220
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 3478
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1669
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4223
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1063
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1538
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8093
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5571
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0484
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 4605
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000448
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD
WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF
SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL FOR POLAD/USIA ADVISOR
COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019
JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS
SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
2. Islamic Extremism
Key stories in the media:
Ha'aretz's web site quoted PM Ehud Olmert as saying today before a
business conference in Tokyo that he is not certain that Israel and
the PA will be able to reach a peace agreement by the end of 2008,
as they committed themselves to doing in the Annapolis conference.
"We have a desire to reach an agreement within the year 2008,"
Olmert was quoted as saying. "I am not sure we will make it, but we
are determined to make a giant step forward to end this dispute once
and for all," he added.
All media reported that on Monday rocket fragments injured three
Sderot residents, including a 10-year-old Sderot boy who was hurt in
the shoulder. The media reported that rocket fire on Israel started
shortly after the Palestinian demonstration south of the Erez
crossing died out. The media generally reported that the
demonstration was a PR exercise that is bound to repeat itself
perhaps more seriously.
Yediot reported that despite Defense Ministry statements to the
contrary, Israel has resumed the supply of electricity to Gaza.
The Jerusalem Post, Makor Rishon-Hatzofe, and other media reported
that on Monday senior members of Kadima and the government coalition
(including Rafi Eitan of the Pensioners Party, the cabinet minister
in charge of Jerusalem affairs) expressed their opposition to making
concessions in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post reported that on
Monday a group of right-wing legislators charged PM Olmert with
freezing construction in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem as a
result of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Maariv
quoted a senior official in the bureau of Communications Minister
Ariel Attias of Shas as saying that Shas will not quit the
government coalition even if Israel returns the Western Wall.
Maariv, which reported that the official later denied having made
the comments, noted that such statements and allegations reflect an
internal struggle within Shas.
Yediot quoted Vice PM Haim Ramon as saying that the total freeze of
construction in the settlements will be partially lifted within one
or two months. The Jerusalem Post quoted Ramon as saying that not a
single outpost has been established in the West Bank since 2005.
The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon-Hatzofe quoted Democratic
presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama as saying on Sunday in a
closed-door meeting with several members of Cleveland's Jewish
community: I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community
that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to
Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of
our friendship with Israel." The Jerusalem Post reported that on
Sunday on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," independent presidential
candidate Ralph Nader attacked Obama for allegedly concealing his
Ha'aretz cited a report that the children of Israeli emigrants are
detaching themselves from Israel.
Leading media reported that Israel has postponed a planned meeting
with Costa Rican officials over the Central American nationQs
decision to formally recognize a Palestinian state.
The Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio quoted Syria's Ambassador to the
U.S., Imad Mustafa, as saying on Monday that there will be no
Israeli-Palestinian peace deal this year, adding that the Annapolis
conference was only an "exercise in public relations.'
Israel Radio and Ha'aretz's web site reported that on Monday a U.S.
federal judge ruled that Iran must pay more than $33 million to the
family of David Ben-Rafael, a U.S.-born Israeli diplomat killed in
the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.
South Korea's Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Shin Kak-soo, was quoted as
saying in an interview with Ha'aretz that the top priority of new
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will be a solution to the North
Korean nuclear problem.
Electronic media reported that this morning a five-justice panel of
the High Court of Justice, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit
Beinisch, rejected, 3-2, petitions against the plea bargain arranged
with former Israeli president Moshe Katsav. Beinisch held a
minority view. The petitions were filed in response to Attorney
General Menachem Mazuz's decision in June 2007 to sign a plea
bargain with Katsav that eliminated two counts of rape that had
appeared in the draft indictment. It also eliminated several other
charges, including two counts of forcible indecent assault and one
of sexual intercourse while exploiting an employer-employee
relationship. The plea bargain includes only minor sexual offenses
-- one count of indecent assault involving pressure and one of
sexual harassment -- and would give Katsav a suspended sentence
rather than actual jail time.
Ha'aretz and The Jerusalem Post reported that on Monday the
Immigration Police raided the area around Tel Aviv's old central bus
station and arrested more than 240 asylum seekers, most of them from
Eritrea and some from the Ivory Coast. The raid followed PM Ehud
Olmert's order to deport all infiltrators who lack UN certification
as refugees by the end of the week.
Makor Rishon-Hatzofe reported that Israel has sent Kenya 800 kg of
The electronic media reported that Dan Shomron, who was IDF chief of
staff from 1987 to 1991, passed away today at the age of 70.
All media reported that the Bank of Israel lowered central bank
interest rates for March by 0.5%; the prevailing expectation in the
marketplace had been that Governor Stanley Fischer would leave the
central bank rate unchanged or reduce it by only 0.25%.
The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized: "The most
important development in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program is
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz:
"Without making light of the power of the Israeli Air Force and its
excellent pilots, this is not something we should be doing on our
own. Israel needs the cooperation, consent and support of the United
States and the European Union in order to defend itself."
I. "Sanctions to Gain Time"
The independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/26): "The
United Nations Security Council is discussing a draft resolution
this week that to a small extent tightens economic sanctions against
Iran.... [But] the most important development in dealing with the
Iranian nuclear program is intra-American.... Since the publication
of the [National] Intelligence Assessment, and the gleeful reactions
to it in Tehran, Washington has come to its senses and is trying to
state things precisely.... The standard-bearer for the Republican
Party, Senator John McCain of Arizona, is partner to Bush's
belligerent stance against a nuclear Iran. The Democrats have not
yet stabilized around a candidate and only in the duel between the
candidates of the two parties this fall will there be an airing of
the differences of opinion on foreign affairs and security issues,
among them a nuclear Iran. The mission, then, is to get to the next
administration with a reasonable opening position in the
international arena, in the shape of resolutions on sanctions. This
is not a lot, but it is not realistic to expect the world to embark
now on a war for which, in its opinion, the time is not yet ripe.
From Israel's perspective, this is not heartening news. Its hope
that international elements will deal with the Iranian atom for
their own sake and spare Israel difficult decisions is liable to
turn out to have been an illusion."
II. "The Goal: Annihilating Israel"
Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in Ha'aretz
(2/26): "Israel is the only member of the United Nations that is
being openly threatened with destruction -- not just as a country
but as a Jewish state. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who
never loses an opportunity to sow hatred against the Jews, is busy
drumming up support for the annihilation of Israel.... [A]
possibility is for Israel to get parliamentarians of European Union
countries to convince their governments to stop selling bomb-making
materials to Iran. But the most important thing of all is to make
the U.S. Congress understand the dangers that loom over its sane
allies in the region. From what we are hearing these days, the next
American president is not going to be as friendly or involved in the
war on Islamic extremism as George W. Bush.... Even if Ahmadinejad
doesn't use the bomb -- if he ever gets his hands on one -- there is
no question that this threat looming over our heads is liable to
undermine the whole concept of Israel being the only safe haven for
the Jewish people. Under the circumstances, it is important for
Israel to avoid collective punishment of the population of Gaza,
lest it lose international support for its efforts to block the
Iranian nuclear program. Without making light of the power of the
Israeli Air Force and its excellent pilots, this is not something we
should be doing on our own. Israel needs the cooperation, consent
and support of the United States and the European Union in order to
2. Islamic Extremism:
Middle East scholar and former senior diplomat Zvi Gabbay wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv: "Media attention is focusing on the
boastful statements of leaders such as Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad,
but it neglects the non-confrontational voices of Arab
intellectuals, who dare to stand as buffers against the despots."
"Another Arab Voice"
Middle East scholar and former senior diplomat Zvi Gabbay wrote in
the popular, pluralist Maariv (2/26): "Media attention is focusing
on the boastful statements of leaders such as Nasrallah and
Ahmadinejad, but it neglects the non-confrontational voices of Arab
intellectuals, who dare to stand as buffers against the despots,
asking them harsh questions about social issues and human rights.
These intellectuals express real concern for their people, who groan
under the tyrannical regimes of leaders whose main concern is
preserving their power. The linkage that the leaders make between
dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the gloomy situation of
the Arab nations is no longer acceptable to many people in Arab
countries. However, they are unable to express their opinions in
their own countries, and they publish their statements in Arabic
newspapers that are published mainly in London. Among the
intellectuals who dare to speak against accepted convention are the
Saudi Arabian Ali bin Talal el-Jihani. In an essay that was
published in Al-Hayat (December 11, 2007), he criticizes
politicians, Sunni or Shi'ite, who use Islam to justify terrorism.
He claims that this was forbidden by all streams of Islam 'even
before the coming of Khomeini and the ascent of his supporters in
Lebanon and Palestine.' El-Jihani claims that terrorism in the name
of Islam has damaged the Arabs and the true image of Islam.... In
the newspaper Ilaf, which is published in London, Khadeir Taher, an
Iraqi Shi'ite, laments the ethnic struggles in Iraq in which, in his
opinion, the Syrian and Iranian secret services have a hand.
Besides, he also dares to note that 'what happens in Lebanon and in
Palestine' is the result of provocative acts by the 'Iranian fools
and mercenaries.' The author does not forget to note in the margins
of his essay that if not for the newspaper in London, he would not
be able to express his opinion. Abd el-Halek Hassin wrote on the
Internet that the Middle East will not become calm until the
elimination of the 'fascist regimes in Syria and Iran and their
burial together with the Iraqi Ba'ath regime.' Only then, in his
opinion, will it be possible to solve the problem of the
Arab-Israeli conflict 'by negotiations as conducted by Sadat, who
won back all of his land without spilling one drop of blood'....
When Arabs win freedom of the spirit, repose will come to the Middle